Wireless Carriers Moving Toward Shared Data Plans Across Devices

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All Things Digital takes a look at the shifting landscape of mobile device data packages, where European carriers are leading the way in offering shared data plans allowing customers to sign up for a single data allotment to be used among multiple devices such as an iPhone and an iPad. Led by Austrian offerings from Orange, those shared data plans have begun rolling out to customer bases increasingly carrying multiple devices and seeking cost-efficient ways of obtaining data access for all of them.

Although the plans vary somewhat by country, the basic premise is the same. Users pay an extra couple of dollars a month for each additional device that shares data - similar to the way families and businesses here have long been able to share minutes between multiple phones.

"We believe that's really a way for the future," said Olaf Swantee, senior executive vice president for France Telecom's Orange unit.

The report notes that executives from AT&T and Verizon in the United States have said that they are actively working on shared data plans, with AT&T saying that such offerings are coming "soon" while declining to specify a launch timeframe.


Apple worked closely with wireless carriers ahead of the iPad's debut in order to be able to provide customers with simple and flexible data access for owners of 3G-capable models. While the initial unlimited data package offered by AT&T for the iPad was quickly replaced by tiered plans, users continue to be able to subscribe to and cancel data services as needed without the need for activation fees or long-term commitments. But shared data plans could offer additional flexibility to provide data service for multiple devices and relatively low incremental costs, provided that the additional device fees imposed by the carriers are not excessive.

AT&T has already had to respond to the idea of shared data with its tethering plans that allow users to create their own Wi-Fi hotspots connected to the cellular network via their phones. The carrier had initially offered tethering support for an additional $20 per month on top of the standard data fee, despite not offering any additional data allotment. The surcharge drew numerous complaints from users, and the carrier eventually modified its offerings to include an additional 2 GB of data for customers on its tethering plan.

Top Rated Comments

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116 months ago
I'm already dreaming of rollover megabytes... :rolleyes:
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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116 months ago

Oh God, this is even worse.

Now little Cindy is gonna eat up daddy's data before he knows it. It's the shared minute/text messages family fight all over again.


It could potentially be this way, if AT&T/Verizon's idea for shared plans are made to penalize you for pooling. Such as 3gb for $50 a month. Something to disincentivize you from a per-line data plan.

I think though with good restrictions/parental controls in iOS you can set Youtube and hopefully soon other video apps to only work over wifi.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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116 months ago

Charging for tethering is bull ****. Just another way US corporations are more concerned with paying CEOs and shareholders than offering value to their customers.

Television, internet, telecoms ... all of them are ruled by a few corporations, much of the time in a monopoly bubble, and all of them hold back evolution by trying to take as much money out of the consumer as possible first at the expense of the country's global technological standing.

In ten years time the USA is going to be in the bottom tier for internet and digital infrastructure and consumer reach.

I agree and try to preach this to friends and coworkers, but their eyes just glaze over and say "yeah but capitalism rules and this is just the free market at work." They have totally drunk the Koolaid. Probably will be at a Palin 2012 rally as well.
I still hold out hope that Sprint will realize they will never catch up to AT&T/Verizon and go out in a blaze a glory with an all-you-can eat data all the time plan. Or maybe that LightSquared will be a player.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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116 months ago
This is inevitable. No sane person will have a separate contract for 2-3 devices. Pay for a single service, and use it however you like.

The electric company doesn't charge me separately for using the washing machine or the lights either.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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116 months ago
I would love if for 10$ a month my ipad can join my iphone in unlimited data. Of course that isnt gana happen tho.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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116 months ago
Hopefully U.S. carriers will follow suit!
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